The expression of mRNA for voltage-dependent (Kv) and inward-rectifying K channels (Kir) was studied in clonal rat somato-mammotroph cells (GH3/B6 cells) and rat pituitary using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In GH3/B6 cells transcripts for 16 different Kv channel alpha-subunits (seven Shaker-related: Kv1.2, Kv1.4, Kv1.5, Kv2.1, Kv3.2, Kv4.1, Kv5.1; six EAG: eag1, erg1, erg2, elk1-elk3; three KCNQ: KCNQ1-KCNQ3) and for five different Kir channel alpha-subunits (Kir1.1, Kir2.3, Kir3.2, Kir3.3, Kir6.2) were found. In addition, transcripts for a short isoform of Kvbeta2 and transcripts for Kvbeta3 subunits were present. In rat pituitary transcripts for 21 different Kv channel alpha-subunits (11 Shaker-related: Kv1.3, Kv1.4, Kv1.6, Kv2.1, Kv2.2, Kv3.2, Kv3.4, Kv4.1, Kv4.2, Kv4.3, Kv6.1; seven EAG: eag1, erg1-erg3, elk1-elk3; three KCNQ: KCNQ1-KCNQ3) and nine Kir channel alpha-subunits (Kir1.1, Kir2.2, Kir3.1-Kir3.4, Kir4.1, Kir6.1, Kir6. 2) were found. In addition, all tested auxiliary subunits (Kvbeta1-Kvbeta3, minK, SUR1, SUR2) are expressed in the pituitary. The results indicate that the macroscopic K currents in GH3/B6 and pituitary cells are presumably mediated by K channels constructed by a larger number of K channel alpha-subunits and auxiliary beta-subunits than previously distinguished electrophysiologically and pharmacologically.